by Penelope Carlevato @teatimepen
As a young mom, my Mondays were always busy. It was my laundry day, and I had several mountains of clothes to wash. Monday was also the day I volunteered at the school store and drove the after-school sports carpool. All three of our children were involved in football or gymnastics. Usually I cooked dinner in the crockpot that night, as it was impossible to start a decent family meal after arriving home so late.
My husband called me from work early one Monday morning to tell me he had invited a college buddy for dinner. Ed was just in town for one day on business, and this was our one opportunity to have him. I had a large roast in the crockpot, so dinner wouldn’t be a problem. My main concern was getting the house in shape, setting the table, and whipping up a quick dessert.
After all the chauffeuring and getting children home after practice, I raced into the house to complete the final touches on dinner. As I did, I asked the kids to please put away their cleats, back packs, gym bags, and get into the shower. I turned to my work in the kitchen.
When I heard the front door open, I took off my apron and greeted my husband and Ed. When I stepped into the foyer, I almost fell flat on my face as I tripped over stinky cleats, socks, backpacks, gym bags, and shoulder pads. I was so embarrassed our guest was greeted by this mess!
But, to my amazement, Ed assured me, “I feel right at home. This is what I come home to every night!” His gracious comment put everyone at ease, and we had a great evening.
It was an enormous lesson for me. I didn’t need a spotless house to have guests. I think I knew that, but this was the first time I actually put that belief to the test.
“For am I now seeking the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV
Many years later, I continue to practice my gift of hospitality. Sometimes I serve meals in a spotless home, but sometimes in a messy home. No one has refused to come for dinner because the house was in chaos! If I have time, I will make the meal very special, but if not, it’s paper plates and plastic cups. My mother shared some wise words with me when I was growing up: “It takes so little to go the extra mile and make your guests feel special.” My preference is to add a little “class” to each meal.
Hospitality is a part of a Christian’s lifestyle, extending Christ’s love to all who enter our homes. When we release the need to have the “perfect” home, we are open to welcome friends and strangers with genuine gladness and love. Nothing is more fun than breaking bread around the table….and it’s not what’s on the table that guests remember. It’s who is around the table.
Practicing hospitality was also an opportunity for my children through example, as I gladly offered my home to others even when every detail was not in place. Insisting that everything be just-so was in reality an effort to impress people. The only one that I needed to please was God.
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:8-10 NASB
About the author: Penelope Carlevato is a Christian author and speaker, member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Bureau and Titanic Speakers Bureau, and a contributing author for numerous compilation books. She serves as a regular columnist for Leading Hearts, the award-winning magazine for Christian women, and also writes for Innovative Health and other medical and wellness magazines.
Penelope’s book Tea on the Titanic, First Class Etiquette is a collection of recipes, special menus, and interesting facts and stories of life in the Downton Abbey and Titanic era. Whether planning a Birthday Tea, a Christmas Tea, a Christening Tea or even a themed Downton Abbey Tea, the pleasures of sharing tea time come alive as Penelope shares her enthusiasm, knowledge, and inspiration.